I was particularly struck by the following:
Second subject, and Lib Dem Phil Willis, the chair of the science and technology committee, leading the questioning.Granted, it is the job of members of this committee (who are the chairs of other select committees) to ask awkward questions. Granted, it is the job of members of opposition parties to oppose.
What evidence is there that patient choice in health drives up quality? he wants to know.
Mr Blair points to reduced waiting lists. No, you're going off on a tangent, says Mr Willis. What about quality, not waiting times?
The prime minister says that in 1997 the key issue was waiting times; a few months rather than a few years for cataract operations is an improvement in health care.
But how meaningful is choice if the hospital you attend is not chosen by the patient or even the GP, but faceless bureaucrats at the primary care trust?
Choice is an illusion, says the Harrogate MP. I don't agree, says Mr Blair; payment by results will mean that money follows the patient.
But Phil Willis here seems not just to be pointing out all the practical problems in implementing the government's choice agenda. He seems to be questioning the very concept of choice itself. And that seems to me an odd thing for a Liberal to be doing.
I stand by what I wrote on the Guardian politics pages in April last year:
If liberalism is to amount to something more than socialism without the identity cards, respect for individual difference must be central to it.Perhaps there are ways of respecting individual differences that do not involve giving people more choice. But opponents of choice do not talk about them. Too often - in the Liberal Democrats and beyond - they sound like the voice of public sector professionals and almost contemptuous of the views and interests of the wider public.